I've spent the bigger part of my life dealing with depression. On and off of medications. In and out of therapy. And there is one thing I've noticed. When I opened up and was honest, most people seemed to shy away from the topic, with a generic reply like, “Well, it will get better. Go for a walk.” And when I turned to social media I noticed that everything was just…. bullshit. No one was being authentic. Everyone was living this shinny life of perfection.
Then, when I was 40, I was finally diagnosed with adhd. That’s after 35 years of believing I was stupid, lazy, incapable, and a quitter. With this diagnosis came a river of tears. An enormous sense of relief took over me as I sat there on the floor reading my test results and finally realising, “I’m NOT stupid!”. That there was a reason for all of my self doubt.
But along with the diagnosis came a letter from the therapist that said, “You do not have to disclose this to anyone.” So with the huge sense of relief I was immediately faced with the feeling that this is something to be ashamed of. I thought about this a bit and decided no — I wouldn’t be ashamed. Why should I be ashamed of my brain working a bit differently? I finally had the key to understanding how mine worked and that was so valuable.
Instead of being ashamed, I made the decision to be proud. And to talk. And one of the ways I do that is through my art.
I create mixed media women. They are my message to the world that it’s ok to not be ok. It is ok to deal with Depression, Adhd, Autism, Bipolar disorder, Anxiety, PTSD, Eating disorders – and on and on and on. There is NO shame! It is ok to have bad days and not have the energy to do the dishes, fold the laundry and to just sit on the sofa eating a pint of ice cream. And anyone who portrays a life of every day being a party, with perfect makeup, hair and nails, a ridiculously clean home, children who are always angels and romcom relationships are NOT being real.
No matter what, it is ok to be authentic and share our lives. And the more we talk about and show our reality – the more “normal” it becomes and the better we feel. That this stigma needs to be smashed!
Just like us, my girls are living in a world where society and social media play an enormous part in determining what is acceptable and what isn’t. They are afraid of judgement and shame so they filter their lives, much like a social media filter. But they want to connect and be real, so on occasion they show the window to their soul to anyone who dares to look.
To the women with diagnoses, I want you to feel seen and understood. To know that whatever it is that you are not wanting to share, due to the fear of being judged, is common and not something to be ashamed of.
Through art I’d like to give you a small boost of bravery to help you share your authentic self and stand tall.
And to the others, who don’t identify with the struggle – take a moment and recognise the fact that mental health is something we need to talk about. To make NOT shameful. And to realize the magnitude of what judgement does to others.
Jennifer Mazur will be exhibiting her art at a solo exhibit from January 24–28th 2021. Galleri Grip in Stockholm. Celsiusgatan 2. Covid restrictions will be in place and mandatory masks will be provided.
For more information on Jennifer and her art, please visit www.jennifermazurart.com